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Washington State University
College of Education

September 2010

A big screen Saturday salute for Phillip Morgan

Phillip Morgan, program coordinator for our K-12 Health and Fitness Teacher Education program, will get a big salute at the Cougs’ Saturday football game against USC.

The Martin Stadium video screen will light up with his picture during the announcement that he is the Washington State University employee of the week.   The honor is sponsored by WSECU and is inspired by nominations made to WSU Athletics.  In this case, athletics intern Josh Grubich made an especially enthusiastic nomination.  He regaled Courtney Ioane, marketing assistant for the Washington State ISP Sports Network, with tales of the professor’s skill and enthusiasm.

Or as Phillip jokes, “my students told some lies about me.”  If that’s the case, a lot of them are lining up to fib.   In the past week alone, three glowing letters have come in to his email box from former students.   They were passed along by Phillip’s proud wife, Sharon.   The enthusiasm of  Mason Skeffington ’06, who’s loving his job as a West Seattle elementary school teacher, was typical:

“Dr. Morgan, it is teachers like you who really got me excited to do what I do.  I could have done many things with my life (and still could) but I chose to teach!  Having great professors at WSU prepared me for what may lie ahead.  I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your guidance and I hope that all is going well with you out at Wazzu.  Good luck with your new batch of scholars. I’m sure they are just as excited to have you as I was.”

Saturday will be a good day for Phillip.  But then, a lot of them are.

“There isn’t one time I’ve had in the classroom that I’ve had a bad day,” says Phillip, whose WSU teaching career began after years as a high school teacher and coach. “When I got this job, I felt I’d arrived. I’m where I want to be.  I don’t want to move up, I don’t want to move laterally. I love to teach.”

Internships that really measure up

As the role of testing in education is hotly debated, there’s no argument about one thing: Tests should be valid and meaningful.

Mo Zhang, center, with colleagues at Educational Testing Service.

As a graduate assistant at the WSU College of Education’s Learning & Performance Research Center (LPRC), Antonio Valdivia is gaining expertise in examining exams. The quality and reputation of the LPRC’s work is reflected in the recent  internships that sent Antonio and two of his fellow doctoral students, Chad Gotch and Mo Zhang, far from Pullman.

With the support of a Fulbright grant, Antonio interned in his home town of Monterrey, Mexico.  His main goal was to build a research network between the Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo Leon and the LPRC, which wants to begin analyzing educational and psychological tests that are administered in other cultures and languages.  Antonio raves about the value of the project to his career:  “It involves research networking and project development in  international, cross-cultural and large-scale settings — all of these in real-life situations.”

Mo interned at the Educational Testing Service in Princeton, New Jersey.  She was part of a team that compares electronic rating systems that are used to score students’ essays.  The challenge is to find a scoring system that can efficiently and accurately assess writing ability. “The learning experience was extraordinary,” Mo says. “It not only enhanced my knowledge and aptitude in conducting scientific research, but broadened my horizon in the field of psychometrics as well.”

Chad learned a lot about the politics that swirl around educational testing during his internship at the National Center for the Improvement of Educational Assessment in Dover, New Hampshire.  While there, he worked on a handbook to assist Pennsylvania school districts in validating their student assessment systems. “The internship helped me to put together some disjointed pieces of knowledge I had floating around in my head, and to understand the forces driving trends in testing,” he said. “The people at the center were all brilliant, and I was able to connect with a lot of professionals at a national student assessment conference.”

The projects in which Mo and Chad participated have been submitted for presentation at national conferences next spring — hers at the National Council on Measurement in Education, his at the American Education Research Association.

More good news…

For those who didn’t see it linked from our Facebook page,  recent doctoral graduate and Clinical Assistant Professor Paul Mencke wrote a guest opinion for the Spokesman-Review newspaper: Teacher’s use of lyrics sound.

And Ph.D. alumna Jennifer Cowgill, a Pullman elementary school teacher, has won the Association of Literacy Educators & Researchers’ 2010 Dissertation Award.

John Armenia, extraordinary educator

The College of Education’s mission is all about the ripple effect — sending graduates into the world to change lives for the better. Sometimes those ripples becomes waves that shape the landscape.

John Armenia

John Armenia is being remembered for the impact he left on the Washington state education system.   John, who died on August 28 and will be honored at a Bellevue memorial service on Thursday, was well into his career as a teacher and administrator when he earned an education doctoral degree from WSU in 1978. Even after his retirement as director of the City University of Seattle’s Educational Leadership Program in 2008, he was still going strong. He finished a five-year stint as president of the Washington State Chapter of Phi Delta Kappa, a professional association for educators, in 2009.  In May of this year, he was elected to PDK International’s board of directors.

Amy Kemp, PDK International’s director of leadership services, sent this note to our Professor Emeritus Don Orlich:

“John was such a visionary within PDK. Of his many contributions, the one that many would speak to was his total dedication to revitalizing the PDK chapters in Washington by creating PDK’s first state chapter. He not only created that chapter, but he led it, actually nurtured it through its formative years, and then when finally comfortable, handed  it off to other leaders. This is the mark of great leadership, to have a vision, to make a commitment, and then establish the means for that vision to continue well into the future.”